What’s the Difference Between Old and New World Wines?

If you want to cultivate a deep understanding of wine, there are certain terms you need to learn about first. With this in mind, the Ideal Wine Company asks; what’s the difference between old and new world wines?

History of wine making

Human societies have been making wine for thousands of years. The practise became particularly popular after the advent of Christianity, due to the role wine plays as a metaphor for the blood of Jesus Christ in the Abrahamic religion’s Mass ceremony.

This meant that the practise of wine growing became commonplace throughout the Christian world. When the countries of Christendom started colonising the lands of the new world, such as the Americas, from the 15th century onwards, they brought wine making with them. This allowed countries such as the USA, Argentina and Chile to develop robust wine-making traditions, which continue to this very day.

A question of location

The reason that the Ideal Wine Company has decided to give you a history lesson, is that the difference between “old world wine” and “new world wine” is one of location. It basically means that old world wines were made in European countries such as France and Spain, whilst new world wines were made in the lands discovered by the European colonisers, such as California.

This is the reason that some wine labels inform you of the location of their origin. You can use this as an indicator of what to expect from the vintage. According to Wine Spectator, “the climates of new world wine regions are often warmer, which tends to result in riper, more alcoholic, full-bodied and fruit-centred wines.” In contrast, “old world wines tend to be lighter-bodied, exhibiting more herb, earth, mineral and floral components.”

Tradition vs. modernisation

Location isn’t the only reason you need to know the difference between old world wine and new world wine. It’s also a question of production methods. The countries of the “old world” have been making your favourite tipple for so long, that they have developed time-tested methods and techniques which they’re loathe to abandon.

The perfect example is Champagne; producers of the luxury tipple are legally bound to follow certain guidelines, meaning they’ve been making Champagne the same way for centuries. Meanwhile, the countries of the “new world” are less bound by traditions, which means that they’re far more open to using technology and science to  improve their wine production methods.

Sample old and new world wines

Now you’ve read this article, why don’t you try what you learned out for yourself? If you buy a La Grande Annee Bollinger 1995 from the Ideal Wine Company, you’ll notice that it’s a classic old world creation. However, if you purchase a Harlan Estate 2002 from the Ideal Wine Company, you’ll soon discover how much of a contrast a new world California wine strikes, when compared with it’s old world French counterpart.


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